TAIPEI -- U.S.-based carrier Delta Air Lines announced Friday that it was terminating its only route that serves Taiwan, with effect from May 25.
Delta Air currently operates one round-trip flight per day between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Narita Airport in Tokyo, catering mostly to passengers traveling to and from the United States via Japan.
The Delta flight between Taoyuan and Narita on May 24 will be the last one on that route, said the carrier, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
The airline said it plans to shift more flights to Tokyo Haneda Airport but did not explain clearly why that would mean closing the Taiwan route, which it has been operating since 2010.
In a report last August, the U.S.-based Star Tribune newspaper, said Delta was ending some of its Narita routes, apparently as a result of changes to aviation rules.
The paper said the decision signaled a shift in Delta's Asia model away from megahubs toward more direct, point-to-point flights.
The airline was seeking to rework its Asia network map to make it competitive with the other large U.S. carriers that were vying for dominance in the region, the newspaper said.
It said Delta had fewer connecting routes to other Asian destinations via Haneda because it lacked the local partners with fortress hubs there.
"Without a significant network restructuring, Delta's position in the region would be significantly weakened," Vinay Dube, Delta's senior vice president of Asia Pacific, was quoted in the report as saying.
Meanwhile, Delta said passengers in Taiwan affected by its latest decision would be transferred to members of the SkyTeam Airline Alliance, including China Airlines (CAL) and Korean Air.
The impact of Delta's withdrawal from Taiwan is likely to limited, according to local travel agencies. Lion Travel and Star Travel said the number of travelers affected may be less than 1 percent of their total customers since there are still plenty of flight options between Taoyuan and Narita, including flights on budget airlines.
Passengers who wish to take direct flights from Taiwan to U.S. destinations can also choose CAL, EVA Airways or United Airlines, the travel agencies said.